Yesterday the San Juan Unified School District released its draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for a proposed large new Middle School campus at the site of the old Creekside Elementary School. By doing so, the school district has begun a 45-day public review period. Comments on the draft document are due no later than Oct. 31, 2022. You can read and download the draft EIR at https://www.sanjuan.edu/buildkjms along with the district's Notice of Preparation (NOP) and numerous responses to the NOP. The "official" comments on the NOP (the ones from state agencies) are available at the State Clearinghouse web site.
At 333 pages, the draft EIR is a huge document. A proper review would include comparisons with the detailed comments on the NOP about what the EIR should cover. Obviously, it would be unfair to our newsroom elves to have them fully analyze the draft EIR yet. They have some initial reactions though:
- The cover page has a photo of the Creekside Nature Area, not the school property.
- The required "No Project" alternative is indeed addressed. Not very well, but at least it's there.
- It looks like the dysfunctional through street from Miramar to Elvyra/Belport for pick ups/drop offs has been replaced by a dysfunctional pick ups/drop offs loop-de-loop that funnels everything through the intersection of Kent and Miramar.
- There is a "reduced size" option that would shrink the proposed 650-student body by 250 students. . While that's going in the right direction, it seems to indicate that the school district has no clue what it is doing when it comes to meeting middle school needs using its entire facilities array. And that's consistent with the school district's failure to even mention the West Arden Arcade middle schools issue in its Facilities Plan that is supposed to guide how it spends tax money fixing and building schools. As a reminder - the Facilities Plan was last updated 9 years ago, whereas the school district has only been considering its middle schools proposals for a little over a year.
- The school district's documents are on a web site labeled "buildkjms", which stands for build Katherine Johnson Middle School. That's a pretty stong indication that the school district is bound and determined to put a large new middle school at Creekside whether it makes sense to do so or not and regardless of community concerns.
Though some people will find the draft EIR to be a cure for insomnia, it is serious stuff. The proposed new campus will cost taxpayers something like $60M to build and much more to operate over decades to come. And, if it is like many other San Juan facilities, it will probably be closed prematurely after it is built. Please try to make time between now and Halloween to read it and convey your thoughts to the school district.